Amazon’s new series, The Wilds, certainly lives up to its name. The show starts off on the dramatic premise of nine girls surviving on a desert island after a harrowing plane crash. The Wilds starts getting wild when suspicions arise over the exact events of the accident and whether or not it may have been intentional. Episode one of The Wilds introduces us to our nine protagonists. And allows the tiniest glimpse into their backstories to pique our interest. The first episode follows the events of the plane crash and the backstory of Leah portrayed by Sarah Pidgeon. Throughout the episode, Leah recounts the traumatic story to FBI agents who interview her after her rescue.
We learn all the girls were being flown to an island in Hawaii to attend a retreat for young women. All the girls are around 17 and are embroiled in their own share of issues. Leah’s trauma stems from a romance gone wrong that left her devastated and obsessed. Aboard the plane, we meet the rest of the ill-fated passengers. We get to see pageant queen Shelby as an exuberant extrovert. There’s Olympic hopeful Rachel as meticulous and uptight. We see cello prodigy Fatin as a self-professed “girly girl,” and so on.
Everything changes in an instant after the turbulence hits, and the girls find themselves adrift in the ocean. After washing up on an island, they are immediately faced with a new situation and a new understanding of each other. Leah muses about their predicament as she sips a Jarritos soda. She notes that what they went through wasn’t as traumatic as one might think because teenage girls are already living in desperate situations all the time.
As the individual backstories begin to unfold, we see each of these young women face adversity, whether from an outside source or within themselves. In their lives, they are subjected to immense pressures from the popular crowd to their own dreams. They mold themselves into pleasing shapes for everyone else, forgetting their own desires. Or they are bold enough to announce to the world that they are driven, able, and sexually evolved only to meet with scrutiny and judgment for their troubles. But their new environment, exposed to nature’s elements, strips away all these expectations. It forces them to learn about themselves and their fellow castaways.
Already the first episode exposes that Shelby isn’t just a Texas princess but an experienced outdoorswoman. Introverted Martha is kind and caring, and the outspoken, sardonic Dot is calm and reassuring in a crisis. There’s more to these girls than meets the eye. And in the days that follow, they’ll have to learn to band together or face possible death.
Another element of this story looms over the stranded girls. Leah’s interview with the FBI agents leaves us feeling unsettled as there are too many important questions left unanswered. We’re left wondering about the exact nature of the retreat the girls were attending. This retreat, remember, emphasized female connection and empowerment. The last scene of the first episode reveals a twist that perhaps isn’t so shocking if you paid attention to the clues; nevertheless, it delivers a jolt of incredulity. None of the dozens of questions you have are answered by the time the credits roll. So you’ll have no choice but continue to episode 2.
The Wilds promises a ride fraught with intrigue and tension. We saw Leah as the first girl to get a backstory. And hopefully, the rest of the girls will also reveal what their life was like before the accident. The show offers a view of these young women as they face their own personal traumas in order to overcome their situation. And as Leah notes in her interview, the traumas they’ve all faced began before they ever set foot on the desert island.